Sajith A. Weerasinghe, chief strategy officer at Dentsu Grant, explores five recent projects from Sri Lanka that have caught his eye
As an existentialist, I tend to question the meaning and symbolism behind communications and how they challenge culture. So for me, as much as the idea matters, the idea behind the idea matters even more. So, here’s my take on five Sri Lankan creative pieces that have impressed me in the recent past...
SoftLogic Insurance - 'The Group Exit Day'
We all know this feeling - being added to another WhatsApp group that you really don’t want to be a part of! While some may argue that it was a necessary evil born out of the post-pandemic 'new normal', it was agnostic of our personalities and mental health, driving a behaviour that we all fear, stripping us of our individuality and expecting us all to respond in the same way. It’s aimed at improving productivity but achieves the exact opposite with the ever increasing number of distractions. While the proposed 'Group Exit Day' has little chance of getting internationally recognised, I love the idea because it’s a rebellion against the evolving culture. It’s ambitious, bold and gutsy! It’s strongly linked to the brand idea of SoftLogic Life - creating a space for you to do what you love.
Reckitts Benckiser - 'Hero’s Hero'
Agency: Publicis Sri Lanka
This piece of comms is witty without trying hard to be, and I am picking it because of its 100% personal relevance. I loved it the very first time I saw it. This ad took me back in time to my struggling Wednesday evenings as a yoga student. When you sit down to meditate and switch off your earthly troubles, mosquitoes appear from nowhere! Unfortunately, as a group of students, we didn’t have a 'Santha' who was well-tuned into us to recognise our mosquito woes. This TVC is also a great reminder to stop obsessing over the five seconders and focus on the quality of the creative work. It feels longer only if it sucks.
Ceylon Biscuits - 'The Barber Shock'
Agency: Dentsu Grant
This is a campaign done by our agency, with the aim of turning Chock Shock from a premium centre filled cookie to a more mass premium brand. I am picking this digital film because, as an industry, we need to benefit from our country’s rich cultural diversity and that’s not going to happen as long as we treat our biggest minority of Tamil speaking population as an afterthought. I have always believed in this and hope this piece of comms will encourage more authentic Tamil content in our industry. Advertising provides us with a stage for cultural change and when we share this stage with those who speak, think and behave differently from us, we will become more inclusive, diverse, richer and even entertained.
Wunderman Thompson - 'Self Promotional Calendar'
Agency: Wunderman Thompson
It’s always refreshing to see self promotion work by agencies. I love this piece because it isn’t just self promotion - they also created opportunities for a bunch of entrepreneurs. So it’s really a win-win. I also felt that this self promotional work was true to their agency. It centres around renewing and re-imagining history, myths and legends that have defined us as a nation, with contemporary expression and the help of a new generation of designers and entrepreneurs. My only grudge with this calendar is that I wasn’t given one!
Unilever Sri Lanka - 'Sunlight Manudam Viyamana'
Agency: MullenLowe Sri Lanka
This story is centred around a seamstress who turns one of her own precious sarees into a birthday dress for a girl despite her own great personal ruin caused by the endless pandemic. Narrated by the girl’s mother, this piece really reinforces the true spirit of Sri Lankan culture, the lengths we go to to keep our bonds alive and how our empathy can triumph over even the biggest of global catastrophes, emphasising the need to protect and strengthen our small business owners, such as this seamstress. This was perhaps the story of many small business owners, beautifully crafted into a compelling piece with little nuances and 100% brand relevance.